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on April 10, 2011
A tough Irishman challenges the authority of the Italian mobsters in Cleveland, thus making himself a target. A contract is put out on him, but he is difficult to take down. This is an effective gangster film that is quite violent, but the violence is not visually graphic. The action is intercut with actual news footage of the local media covering the events as they took place, which adds to the film's realism. The lead character is a domineering figure, but he is not a bully, and he is thus likeable. Some familiar faces from gangster films past appear in this one, bringing back memories of films like Goodfellas. Though not quite at that level, Kill the Irishman is very solid entertainment that should not be missed.
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The biographical dramatization "Kill The Irishman" is one of those under the radar films that, I believe, people will discover and embrace through the DVD market. Certainly not a perfect film--the movie does boast, however, a raw grittiness, larger than life performances, and an intriguing and spectacular true story begging for a big screen treatment. And yet, the theatrical release was all but non-existent. The film chronicles a mob war that escalated in Cleveland during the mid-seventies. At the heart of the action is Danny Greene, played with vigor by Ray Stevenson, an Irish-American thug who becomes entrenched in the shenanigans of the Italian mafia. With bluster and bravado, Greene stood his ground as an individual and even came to be championed by ordinary citizens for his more philanthropic endeavors. By taking on the mob, very visibly and very vocally, Greene achieved a notoriety that is hard to ignore and sparked a murderous summer in 1976 that resulted in 36 Cleveland area bombings.

The film introduces Greene as a physical laborer who, through righteousness and intimidation, ascends to the position of a local Union leader. Taken down and imprisoned for corruption, however, brings the high life to an end--and he and his family are forced to build a new existence upon his release. Through local connections (Vincent D'Onofrio and Christopher Walken), Greene soon finds himself taking on more responsibility with the mafia. However, trying to establish his independence and tiring of their imposed leadership, Greene eventually raises their ire with his rebellious and confrontational ways. This leads to all out war! The film does an excellent job highlighting the political and power connections that start to unravel. The resultant action is well done and harrowing--it is recreated with terrific specificity and attention to detail. Fans of action and mob films will not be disappointed by the film's brutality. The incorporation of real life news footage enhances the human drama as well.

Central to the success of the film is Ray Stevenson (who I knew principally from HBO's Rome). Stevenson gives a dynamic and fearless performance, strong but never alienating. You can see why Greene appealed to people, but Stevenson never relinquishes his harder edge. I loved him and, for me, he made the movie! Bigger names (including Val Kilmer as a cop who inexplicably narrates this piece) are fine, but the picture belongs to Stevenson! As a biography, however, the film makes some big jumps that would have defined its characters better. The story with Greene's wife and family is fairly superficial, his normal friends turn into weapon carrying thugs with zero transition, and most egregiously--the film fails to generate any time for the most intriguing aspect of Greene's tale. Greene became a popular cult figure with a Robin Hood mythology. The movie spends all of about ten seconds explaining this fascinating development! Still, this is a heck of a ride--all the more riveting because of its basis in real life. Genre fans should appreciate the movie--but don't let the title scare you, this should also have more universal appeal! KGHarris, 5/11.
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on May 22, 2011
It's very seldom that I say that a particular movie would have benefited from a longer running time, but in the case of KILL THE IRISHMAN, I think that an additional thirty minutes would have turned what is now an entertaining gangster movie into a classic of the genre.

Written (with Jeremy Walters) and directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, KILL THE IRISHMAN is based on the true story of Danny Greene, an Irish-American thug, revered by his neighbors as a local "Robin Hood," who in the 1970s, declared war on the Cleveland branch of the Italian Mafia. Greene survived many assassination attempts and his bold efforts, ultimately, led to the collapse of the Mob syndicate throughout the United States.

Ray Stevenson is quite effective as the "take no prisoners" Danny Greene, and he is supported by an excellent cast that includes Vincent D'Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Paul Sorvino, Robert Davi and several other actors who are familiar faces in Mob movies.

The problem is that there are so many characters and so much plot, all fascinating, that are crammed into the movie's 106 minute running time that the film feels like an outline for a more extensive epic drama. Great gangster movies (e.g. THE GODFATHER, GOODFELLAS) require texture and depth of characterization, while Hensleigh's picture presents the people who populate it with very broad strokes.

Yes, I enjoyed the movie, but I think that HBO or Showtime might have done this story more justice.

The DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment includes a compelling documentary about the real Danny Greene.

© Michael B. Druxman
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on June 15, 2011
I knew eventually a movie about the legendary Danny Greene will come out, and this was nicely done with a great cast. Im sure you know the true story by now - a ballsy Irish-American thug in 1970s Cleveland tests the Mafia to the limits with brazen acts of defiance, a time when the Cleveland Mafia often preferred car-bombs instead of guns. Ray Stevenson is a fine choice for Greene, Kilmer lights up the screen as the detective on the case (and semi-friend; who's well aware of Greene's inevitable fate), and D'Onofrio is terrific as low-level hood John Nardi. Excellent usage of real-life news footage of the events transpiring and the Celtic bagpipe backround tune is a true pleasure as well. A few thoughts:

-Sorvino was a nice choice for Fat Tony Salerno of the Genovese Family but he should have been chewing a cigar in almost every scene, Salerno was notorious for this.

-They should have showed more of the relationship between Greene and Jewish loanshark Shonder Birns (Walken), as this is how Greene really made his mark in the underworld. They missed alot of this but hey it is a 2 hour film.

Other than a few minor flaws, this slick little mobster film is very entertaining and gangster fans especially will be glued to the screen. 4 Stars for Kill The Irishman.
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i was in my twenties when danny green was finally killed. i drove by his dentist,s office frequently. Located in affluent Lyndhust on the border of Beachwood, it was not the neighborhood any of us were expecting for this. but we had been following the car bombs for years and it seemed like they would never end. danny green, a local hero for many, was the one who ended it and he passed into local lore handed down from one generation to the next. frankly it is unthinkable that anyone brought up here would not know his story.

the movie does a good job bringing Green to life with the lead actor being the best part of the film. he could be danny green. the supporting cast is good too although christopher walken does not remind me of shonder birns at all. vincent d,onforio does remind me of john nardi though. however, this isn,t a documentary so these are minor points. in fact, what i want to see now is the documentary made in tandem with this by the same people.

i guess the reason this is four stars instead of more though is that i,ve been raised on all of the coppola and scorsese gangster films. although this is good, it does not come up to their level. after all of their gangster films, i am also tired of gangster films and can,t handle the violence as well as i used to handle it.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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VINE VOICEon June 21, 2011
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Three things I'd like to address up front.

First, the box cover assertion that this is "The best gangster film since Goodfellas." No, actually, it's not. I'm tempted to give that honor to "The Departed," but once again, that wasn't a classic "mob" movie in the sense of The Godfather, Goodfellas or Casino.

While "The Departed" was a movie "about" the Irish mob, the real emphasis of the story was on the law enforcement officials...both upright and corrupt...caught in the vortex of trying to take the bad guys down.

Second, Val Kilmer. He's prominently featured on the box cover, he's got third billing, and his character is basically a generic cop who also narrates the film. The role could have been played by anyone. If you're fresh off of watching "Tombstone" and are thinking "Oh boy, a new Val Kilmer movie," think again. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but his interactions with Ray Stevenson's Danny Greene character are flat and unconvincing. Want to see genuine interplay between characters who grew up in "the old neighborhood" and are now damaged adults? Watch Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Tim Robbins in "Mystic River."

Third, Christopher Walken. This isn't "a Christopher Walken movie" any more than it is "a Val Kilmer movie," but he's in it, and that means expectations are going to be high among viewers with even a passing interest in his work. He's dead-center in the box cover artwork. He's not dead-center in the movie. As mobster Shondor Birns, he represents a turning point of sorts in Greene's life. Freshly ousted as head of the union, Birns offers him a "collections" position in his loan sharking business. Once again, I don't want to offer up a spoiler here, but the business relationship goes sideways and Greene's method of handling it takes his journey to another level. What you don't get, in the highly compressed time frame of a 106 minute movie, is the dynamic of the relationship between Birns and Greene...it is almost as if you are expected to assume that Birns is the bad guy because he is portrayed by Walken, who tosses off a few Walken-isms along the way. When the moment of truth arrives, you aren't left with a deep understanding of how things got to that point. You've been offered the events, but there's no glue to hold them together.

Having said all of that, this might have made a far more engaging HBO (it would have to be on cable, due to the language and graphic violence) mini-series than a stand-alone movie, but it's still a 4-star movie.

There is an excellent one hour documentary included, "Danny Greene: The Rise and Fall of the Irishman," which I decided to watch before the movie...and I was glad I did. While it is a spoiler of sorts (you know the beginning, middle and end of the story before you watch the movie), when you actually do watch the film, there is a sense of cohesiveness I don't believe would have been there without it.

It's just too big of a story to fit into one movie. Greene was the epitome of the enigmatic "Robin Hood" type, and as his first wife shares in the documentary, he could display great acts of kindness (10 paid scholarships in the best private school in town for 10 inner-city kids from poor families, 50+ hams at Easter to neighbors, 50+ turkeys on Thanksgiving and Christmas to the same neighbors, paying 3 months' back rent for a neighbor, ridding the neighborhood of a rowdy biker gang), he was also prone to acts of extreme violence.

I can't predict how you'll react to the good man / bad man balance in the Greene character. I'm also not a scholar when it comes to the real-life events so I can't tell you if he is portrayed as a "better" or "worse" man than the real-life Greene.

Within 5 years of his death, as the result of a chain of events that followed, the FBI had essentially wiped out the U.S. presence of La Cosa Nostra. So it is impossible to separate "good" and "evil" in this movie...and it is usually the same in real life. Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. There is no black and white sharp defining line. We blur those lines every day that we are breathing.

The movie also effectively incorporates news footage of the real Danny Greene and news reports from the era. The story is brutal. When we see Greene sitting with his new girlfriend and discussing a move to Texas, to get away from it all and start a new life, it's pretty much a guarantee that he's not going to make it to Texas.

So if you set your expectations to what I have shared here...that this is not "the best gangster film since Goodfellas," that the performances by Walken and Kilmer are far from "career defining," and that you will need a sense of history and the chain of events to understand how things get from point "A" to point "B," and then to point "C"...I think you'll really enjoy this film.

Most likely, if you watch the film and documentary in whatever order you choose, then watch the film a second time, you will enjoy it more than if you just hit the film cold on your first viewing.

Highly recommended.
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The biographical dramatization "Kill The Irishman" is one of those under the radar films that, I believe, people will discover and embrace through the DVD market. Certainly not a perfect film--the movie does boast, however, a raw grittiness, larger than life performances, and an intriguing and spectacular true story begging for a big screen treatment. And yet, the theatrical release was all but non-existent. The film chronicles a mob war that escalated in Cleveland during the mid-seventies. At the heart of the action is Danny Greene, played with vigor by Ray Stevenson, an Irish-American thug who becomes entrenched in the shenanigans of the Italian mafia. With bluster and bravado, Greene stood his ground as an individual and even came to be championed by ordinary citizens for his more philanthropic endeavors. By taking on the mob, very visibly and very vocally, Greene achieved a notoriety that is hard to ignore and sparked a murderous summer in 1976 that resulted in 36 Cleveland area bombings.

The film introduces Greene as a physical laborer who, through righteousness and intimidation, ascends to the position of a local Union leader. Taken down and imprisoned for corruption, however, brings the high life to an end--and he and his family are forced to build a new existence upon his release. Through local connections (Vincent D'Onofrio and Christopher Walken), Greene soon finds himself taking on more responsibility with the mafia. However, trying to establish his independence and tiring of their imposed leadership, Greene eventually raises their ire with his rebellious and confrontational ways. This leads to all out war! The film does an excellent job highlighting the political and power connections that start to unravel. The resultant action is well done and harrowing--it is recreated with terrific specificity and attention to detail. Fans of action and mob films will not be disappointed by the film's brutality. The incorporation of real life news footage enhances the human drama as well.

Central to the success of the film is Ray Stevenson (who I knew principally from HBO's Rome). Stevenson gives a dynamic and fearless performance, strong but never alienating. You can see why Greene appealed to people, but Stevenson never relinquishes his harder edge. I loved him and, for me, he made the movie! Bigger names (including Val Kilmer as a cop who inexplicably narrates this piece) are fine, but the picture belongs to Stevenson! As a biography, however, the film makes some big jumps that would have defined its characters better. The story with Greene's wife and family is fairly superficial, his normal friends turn into weapon carrying thugs with zero transition, and most egregiously--the film fails to generate any time for the most intriguing aspect of Greene's tale. Greene became a popular cult figure with a Robin Hood mythology. The movie spends all of about ten seconds explaining this fascinating development! Still, this is a heck of a ride--all the more riveting because of its basis in real life. Genre fans should appreciate the movie--but don't let the title scare you, this should also have more universal appeal! KGHarris, 5/11.
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on May 29, 2011
Danny Greene is a poor Irish orphan who grows up to become a gritty union leader at odds with and in cahoots with the local Mafia. Ray Stevenson does an excellent job portraying Danny Greene while Val Kilmer was less than spectacular as the detective investigating him. Perhaps the writers didn't know what personality to give Kilmer, so they left it out. In spite of Danny Greene's criminal exploits, we have empathy for him. Danny is both tough and smart is spite of not completing high school. His blue collar rise to the top gives us the bad guy "walking tall" feel.

Once Danny is caught, things change. He makes a deal to stay out of prison by becoming a snitch to the surprise of Val Kilmer, but he is not a very good snitch. In one scene, Danny decides to clean up his own neighborhood by going up against a local biker gang. His wife (Linda Cardellini) watches Danny beat up a biker in the street and she appears to be surprised at his actions after being married to the guy for several years, knowing he is a mobster. She is not supportive.

Danny is forced to do things he doesn't want to do, or at least that is how the film portrays Danny, as the kindly neighborhood bill collector, who only busts kneecaps when he has to. Good historical film without being a documentary.

Very brief sex, nudity, and f-bombs. Some course ethnic humor.
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on June 12, 2011
"If any of these maggots from the so-called mafia want to come after me, I'm not a hard man to find." This is the true story of Danny Greene (Stevenson), the man the mob couldn't kill. After an encounter with loan shark Shondor Birns (Walken) ends badly, a $25,000 price is put on his head. The mafia tries everything they can think of, but Danny will not go down without a fight. Being a huge fan of mafia movies, I was really looking forward to this one. While the movie is very good and entertaining, I was a little dissapointed. The movie seemed to never keep up a steady pace. Some parts moved very quick and were fun to watch, then the next scene slowed it way down and didn't seem to have any impact. The cast however, makes this movie. There are too many stars to list here but there are about ten known actors that really make this movie as good as it is. If the cast was not what it was this would have been a really bad B movie, but as it stands it is a very entertaining movie to watch. On a side note Val Kilmer is not embarassing to watch in this (unlike is last 4 or 5 movies). Overall a very good movie, but a tad dissapointing. I give it a B.

Would I watch again? - I think I would.
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on July 1, 2011
He didn't want to be wealthy, famous or even powerful. All he wanted was a good home for his loved ones, a safe life for his children and fair labor for those who worked under him. That's the true story of Danny Greene. He wasn't a mobster but a testament to the integrity, honor and dignity so many of us lack.

Did he do some bad things? Yep. But to what end? Only to preserve what he had worked so hard to obtain in his life.

This film is dry. You can't go into it expecting The Godfather. And, it's not about the Boston Irish, either. It's Cleveland... a big dirty town built upon a foundation of sweat, blood and corruption.

All that being said, if you want to see a good story that is historically accurate, you'll enjoy and appreciate this film. But, if you want all the bling blam of a Guy Ritchie flick, you should probably look elsewhere, because this show is all grit.
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